Biotechnology giant MedImmune has appointed Bahija Jallal, its current Executive Vice President for R&D, as its new President.
The former President of the Maryland-based company, Peter Greenleaf, will take over leadership of parent company AstraZeneca’s (AZ) Latin American business.
The transition accompanies the formal designation of MedImmune as the global biologics division of AZ, which acquired it for $15.6bn in 2007.
Bahija Jallal is a former researcher at the Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany. While VP of Drug Assessment and Development at Chiron, she was headhunted by MedImmune in 2006, becoming its Head of Translational Science.
Commenting on that appointment, Jallal said: “I was struck by MedImmune’s history of innovation. And I looked at who they had on their board of directors and their executives. There were more women than you would see at other companies.”
The fortune paid by AZ to acquire MedImmune surprised many in the industry. The acquisition was followed by investment in its R&D capability, including the development of a new site in Cambridge, England, and the merger of the UK group with Cambridge Antibody Technology.
According to MedImmune spokesman Mike O’Brien, the biotech company’s commercial operation now formally belongs to AZ’s North American business, while its manufacturing operation is part of AZ’s global operations.
“The driver for these changes is not cost but even faster decision-making in key areas of the business and a need to reduce complexity,” he said.
Through MedImmune, AZ plans to deliver an average of one new biologic drug per year from 2013.
MedImmune’s past successes include two innovative vaccines: the first monoclonal antibody approved by the FDA for use against an infectious disease (Synagis, used to prevent the childhood lung disease RSV); and the first intranasal vaccine against influenza (FluMist).